Slip Inside The West Coast Trail

Photo credit: Bruce H. Perry

Do you suppose we’ll meet any wild animals on the West Coast Trail? Some, but mostly sea lions, and cougars, and bears.

Sea lions? And Cougars? And bears. Oh my!

Slipping and sliding is exactly what you’ll be doing wearing ruby slippers and even hiking boots on this 75km (47 mi) world-class breath-taking adventure trail on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia.

While you definitely won’t feel like you’re following a yellow brick road in Kansas, you will feel like you’re in some thrill flick.

You’ll be climbing up ladders, about 50 ladders actually, and down ladders, pulling yourself across channels with cable cars as helicopters buzz by, and climbing over big boulders. You’ll be slipping and sliding on algae-covered logs and rocks and cobbles, wading through knee-deep bogs, and tripping on roots. You’ll be on your toes watching out for rogue waves and surge channels and even dangling on suspension bridges.

Be forewarned: it is rare for any hiker to complete the trail without falling more than once. A bruised butt is one thing, but being medivacked out of there is another!

Oh, and that finish line… Whether you walk, stumble, or pull your tired body across it, you will stand tall knowing you have just completed the West Coast Trail.

A trail that is claimed to be one of the world’s classic hikes and even ranked #1 Best Hike in the World in the Top 10 list on since 1999.

Mud, Sweat And Tears

Have nagging phobias to conquer? Conquer away with this trek through the southern end of the Pacific Rim National Park on Vancouver Island. It will leave you breathless — quite literally.

Originally developed as a rescue trail for shipwreck survivors on the rough Pacific Coast of Vancouver Island (the Graveyard of the Pacific), the West Coast Trail is a rugged hiking experience that now draws in over 8,000 people through each year!

The West Coast Trail’s natural beauty definitely delivers. From dewy dawns to embracing dusks, the different corners of this trail will enrapture you.

Old growth forests protected with moss and fern will have you aiming and clicking wildly at every corner, teasing you to record the intense range green has to offer.

Yucky, muddy, mushy bogs will have you cringing and contemplating how to put your best foot forward. The choice will be clear as mud of course. You will come to understand that sometimes we have to wade through mud to get to higher ground. Close your eyes and just plow through what can be thigh-deep mud!

You may be slowed, but not deterred.

When least suspecting, the embracing giant trees will sling shot you through narrow openings and you’ll find yourself dancing to the gentle roar of the pacific coast waves. The salty water smell, the wind in your face, the sandy beach grasping at your bare toes. Rugged cliffs will protect you, blowholes will tease you, caverns and caves will tempt you. You will tiptoe through tidal pools of creatures beaming in bright greens, pinks and purples.

The hues of the rainbow will mesmermize you into submission as your breath is taken aback with a refreshing dip underneath the cascades of Tsusiat falls as the sun sets before you.

You will stumble upon objets d’ art: lighthouses, shipwreck relics, abandoned settlements and petroglyphs.

Your trek will take on a different tempo, at least a couple days through your journey, as your tastebuds will be tantalized. Your senses will take over and your feet will become slaves as whispers of real food have you break into a run for burgers, fresh dungeness crabs and brew straight ahead.

The Challenge

Whether you start from Port Renfrew, the south-end, or Bamfield, the north-end, the decision is yours.

Whether you walk or run it, the decision is yours.

Whether you decide to make your way 100% through the embrace of the rainforest, or take a dip by the seaside, the decision is yours.

You are allowed a maximum of 10 days on the trail. The fastest woman, Wanetta Beal, took 19 hours and thirteen minutes set on August 15, 2008. The fastest man, Gary Robbins, took 10 hours, 8 minutes set on August 4, 2010. Six days is the average number of days to travel along the length of this trail.

What may just help you make these decisions are the photos below.

Additional Information

The trail is open from May 1st to September 30th.

A permit is required to hike this trail. 52 people are allowed on the trail on any given day (that is 26 people at each end). Ten spots are kept open per day for stand-by permits.

For more information, click

Beware! There are bears and cougars and sea lions. One attack, after my hike finished, took place in Port Renfrew on a fisherman’s boat at the end of the day, click here.

Would love to hear about some can’t be missed hiking trips! Interested in sharing your story?

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